Thursday, November 29, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #113

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #113 (March 1999)
title: "The Anywhere Machine!"
writers: Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Scott Kolins
inker: Al Gordon
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5.1, Ferro, Invisible Kid, Katate Kid, Kinetix, Live Wire, M'Onel, Sensor, Spark, Thunder, Triad, Violet


Bizarro Kinetix (others hinted), Doctor Deacon, Emperor Goss, Lord Pernisius, a smuggler

Recently, the Legion has agreed to help Thunder find all the pieces of Eternium dispersed when the Rock of Eternity was destroyed, so she can rebuild it, insure her future, and return home. And ever since Kinetix was in the space-time anomaly known as the Fires of Creation, she has been zoning out, functional but insensate and unresponsive to the real world...

The Legionnaires are exploring the fiery planet Phlogista for signs of life before the McCauley Consortium starts drilling for energy. Violet finds it at the subatomic level, and amazingly, the other Legionnaires shrink down to see the United Molecules and their angry emperor. Then, the lights come on and we see that they were all still at Outpost Allon, using Brainiac 5.1's new "anywhere machine", a version of their VR chamber that allows them to peer anywhere in the galaxy using the stargate network.
Some Legionnaires go off to bring the data they collected personally, while Brainy keeps working on his newest project, something called "Bizarro" that he brought back from the 20th Century. Meanwhile, Violet and Spark are worried that Kinetix is withdrawing more and more into herself and hit upon a crazy idea. We also catch up with Thunder's quest to find all the Eternium with Sensor's help, and segue to Rimbor where the warlord Lord Pernissius has just come into possession of a chunk. His underling Dr. Deacon splashes some unlocking fluid and KRA-KOW, everyone in the room momentarily pulses with energy. Pernissius wants more...
Meanwhile, the girls bring Kinetix to Brainy's lab and make him modify the anywhere machine to all them to go into their friend's mind. It's somehow possible, but Violet and Spark get caught up in the memory of the Fires of Creation, and Kinetix's conscious self is disturbed that they are basically following her impulse and could get lost too. Turning her back on her quest for power and thus on the memory of what she saw in the anomaly releases her friends from its pull and Zoe is back to her old self again...
...just in time for Brainy's Bizarro experiment to go haywire. Indeed, when the boys comes back from their data run, they are shocked to see a bizarre version of the Outpost...
We seem to be setting up a bunch of stuff all at once. First, the “anywhere machine”, then Brainy’s secret experiment, and finally the quest for Eternium. While the Bizarro part will most likely be the very next thing we will encounter, the two others have much more to offer the plot. If the "Bizarro Legion" is anything like what it sounds like, I think we’re going on a crazy wild ride in the next issue. A Bizarro Legion? Not sure I’m a big fan of the idea.
Before getting into the deeper stuff, let me just say that I was glad to see Sensor again. It feels like we haven’t seen her in AGES! That’s the problem with having so many characters, you tend to forget about some of them and they can’t always get proper panel time (as a kind of equivalent to screen time). Now, concerning Kinetix. While we all knew her current state had something to do with the time-space anomaly, I never thought it could be self-inflicted. I thought it put something in her mind to make her so numb all the time, but to think that she was simply searching for that power, wanting it all for herself for all that time. Not gonna lie, I feared for Violet and Spark for a moment. I’m glad they were able to overcome the pull of the anomaly and bring Zoe back along the way. Just to be hit by that bizarre flash.
One last thing. That font in dark green over paler green bubbles is the most irritating thing I’ve had to witness ever since starting to read these comics. Who approved this? It’s terrible and almost impossible to read!
I see the resolution of the Kinetix story very differently. Rather than Vi and Ayla overcoming the anomaly's pull, it's Zoe who fears for their souls, says enough is enough, and puts her ambitions behind her before her friends are lost to it. After all, the only reason they are drawn to the Fires is because they're living in HER moment, HER feeling. So it's Kinetix who cures HERSELF at which point her friends are saved. It's just too bad Scott Kolins doesn't draw the Fires the way we saw them before (but then, I don't know where he puts the Outpost either - that's a really busy part of space and not Earth orbit). Regardless, a nice story of friendship, a theme that also connects with Sensor palling around with Thunder, and Ferro not wanting to go on a mission with Triad after the events of the previous issue.
As to the anywhere machine, it's a bit of a throwback to Silver Age Legion stories, and if you're going to bring in crazy Bizarro nonsense (I'm all for it, judging by the fun, reconfigured Outpost), you might as well lean into it. So yeah, it doesn't really make sense that this magical clairvoyance machine (too much power and unlikely to be mentioned again) can get into Zoe's head. But whatever. If the team were all together right now, this would have been a job for Saturn Girl. With the split, the writers went with what they had, and that's Brainy's science being bonkers. (Speaking of people changed by the Fires of Creation, it would seem the kinder, gentler Brainy is really only a facade. When he's alone, he's free to say we're all primitives to him.) The crazy science also gives us a sun-like planet where a bunch of molecules are united against invaders (whatever they may be). A throwaway that could have sustained a story if they'd let it, but an amusing notion nonetheless.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/6.
  • The issue uses the now rarely seen Encyclopedia Galactica to describe Phlogista and Rimbor, a device used frequently in the Levitz era. 
  • McCauley's Consortium is misspelled MacCauley, but are no doubt one and the same.
  • The Legionnaires play a 3D video game called "The Coliseum II" (sic), which visually harks back to the DnD game they used to play in the Levitz era.
  • How Brainiac 5 picked up Bizarro-related materials in the 20th Century is not a story that was told then, but we later find out he took it from LexCorp's computers during the Final Night event.
  • The last panel on page 20 shows Kinetix having been turned into a Bizarro. That's why she ends up saying "Good as old" instead of "Good as new". Bizarro's use opposite-speak.
  • The Bizarro Legion Outpost is yellow with red fins, just like the Silver Age Legion Club House. Among its strange features, we find a warp nacelle from the original U.S.S. Enterprise, jigsaw puzzle patterns, and an outhouse (a play on "outpost"). Note also the reversed Legion logo in the next issue blurb, with its square lens flares.


  1. No, because she is transformed mid-sentence.

  2. That shot of the molecular army about to fire at the Legion feels straight out of 60's era Marvel...

    Overall, this issue just leaves me feeling unexcited overall. Back when the Reboot started the science aspect of the science fiction setting actually seemed tangible and semi-consistent. Here it's just taken to ridiculous extremes for the purposes of plot.

    Also, Bizarros? Sigh. I was tired of the concept when I was a kid reading my Dad's old comics from the 60's...